See Creatures you’ve never seen before
Your journey through the Cairns Aquarium follows a drop of rain as it descends from the tropical rainforest covered range, to join creeks, streams and rivers before travelling through the rainforest, across the mangrove flats and coral reef systems before entering the Coral Sea. 10 North Queensland ecosystems and 71 habitats have been meticulously researched so that these natural environments could be recreated in Cairns Aquarium to ensure the ongoing health and longevity of the species on display.
Discover all of our amazing animals below, click to open each gallery to see more.
This gallery is a journey through the rivers of Far North Queensland and showcases the unusual shapes and behaviours of endemic species including perch, gudgeon, catfish and freshwater stonefish to name a few of the species found here.
Creeks and Streams
Freshwater species are often thought to be second cousins to their brighter marine counterparts however there is nothing dull about the crustaceans in these waters. Brilliantly coloured crayfish and giant prawns will really catch your eye and attention.
Waterways and Billabongs
The Cape York and Gulf Savannah region is home to one of the World’s rarest and most bizarre fish, the Freshwater Sawfish which can grow as large as 7 metres and has a 2 metre snout or rostrum covered in dangerous bony teeth. Lurking in the depths of this exhibit are also giant barramundi and one of the largest species of freshwater whip rays. Other fish such as sooty grunters and mangrove jacks may just make an appearance too!
Discover some of the most incredible snakes, lizards, and frogs you’ve ever seen. Many of these are nocturnal and are often not seen during the day. Our displays highlight these beautiful creatures so you can see what creeps around the tropical forests late at night!
The richest diversity of spiders and insects known in Australia and possibly the world, can be found in Tropical North Queensland. Not only are they everywhere but they are huge! Many growing larger than your hand and even longer than your arm! We’ve brought together some of the biggest and meanest rainforest giants you’ve ever seen!
Life in the Mangroves
The mangroves play an important role in filtering out sediment from mountain water streams and provides a safe nursery for many young reef fish. Mangrove trees have evolved to live permanently in a mixture of salt and freshwater that is constantly changing. The eco-systems in the Wet Tropics are intrinsically linked and the mangroves host a world of unique creatures with important biological functions. Fish that live out of water, fighting crabs, crocodiles and even baby sharks are all just part of the days’ fun.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 2,600 kilometres over an area of approx. 344,400 sq kilometres. It is so large it is visible from space. Many plants and animals have developed specialised colours, shapes, and behaviours to survive. The Great Barrier Reef Gallery provides an insight into some very unique and unusual inhabitants.
Dangers of the Reef
The Reef has many species of marine life that can be potentially fatal to humans. Dangers of the Reef shows you the creatures you should watch out for before venturing out. Some are easily seen such as sea snakes or lionfish, others such as Box Jelly fish or Irukandji are often not seen until it’s too late!
The Coral Sea
In the main Oceanarium you will find many of the Reef’s largest inhabitants including Scalloped Hammer Head sharks, Reef sharks, Leopard sharks, Sting rays, Coral Trout, and Trevally. The number of fish species living in this area is higher than in any reef zone.
The Reef face is the zone above the Reef floor or the reef drop-off. It is the richest habitat with complex growths of coral and calcareous algae. Cracks and crevices abound providing protection, and the abundant invertebrates and epiphytic algae provide an ample source of food which attracts fish and life forms to its structure. Our 10-metre-high, 200,000 litre deep reef face tank is visible over both levels of the Aquarium so you can see how fish move between the shallows and the ocean depths.
Under the Pier
Man-made structures such as jetty’s and piers make instant homes for those species that can adapt to this environment. Aqualuna Restaurant showcases these species in a centrally located 70,000 litre shark exhibit. Baby Blacktip reef sharks, stingrays, angelfish and wrasse will watch you as you dine.